Obama: end malaria deaths by 2015

Well, you certainly can’t fault Obama for aiming high. Via satellite, Obama announced at yesterday’s Clinton Global Initiative forum that he would provide support to end malaria deaths in Africa by 2015–a lofty goal, but is it even close to attainable?

Obama provided the basics of his plan here, laying out why he feels this is such an important goal:

Malaria needlessly kills 900,000 people each year. In Africa, a child dies from a mosquito bite every thirty seconds. Beyond this devastating human toll, malaria undermines the economic potential of local economies and overwhelms public health systems – accounting for up to 40% of health spending in many African countries. As global warming and population displacement trends accelerate, an additional 260-320 million people worldwide could be living in malaria-infested areas by 2080.

He then discusses multiple approaches necessary to quickly reduce the mortality from this infection. Is this attainable? More after the jump…
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Academic blogging: addressing criticisms

Thanks again to those who blogged, commented or emailed regarding our PLoS Biology manuscript. Nick already has his own response here, highlighting posts such as Larry’s, Blake’s, Drug Monkey’s, Thomas’, and Carlo’s. Several criticisms ran along the same lines: that, as Nick notes, “that further institutionalizing blogs risks compromising their inherent spontaneous and independent ‘blogginess'”. I agree with much of what he says in response:
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PLoS Biology: blogging and academia

Along with Shelley Batts and Nick Anthis, I have a new paper out today in PLoS Biology on academic blogging: a short commentary on potential ways to integrate blogs into academia. Nick already has a bit of the history and goals of the manuscript over at The Scientific Activist so I won’t repeat those here; long story short, we started out with the goal of simply reviewing academic blogs, and the paper ended up morphing into a road map describing potential ways to integrate blogs into academia.

Many, many readers and writers in the blogosphere donated their time to send us messages about what blogging meant to them, how they had benefited, what risks they had taken, and how they saw (or would like to see) blogging evolve, and while only a few stories made it into the final manuscript, their time and input is greatly appreciated. (Nick has collected many of them here, with a hearty thanks to all who helped out).

Of course, publication is only the start of the process, and I’m happy to see one post already up about the paper. I think DrugMonkey has some great points, and I’ll discuss them and hopefully some other forthcoming responses I see popping up to the paper in a later post. And of course, comments from y’all are appreciated as well.

The science fair: what’s a parent to do (or not to do?)

This started out in the comments to Janet’s conundrum about what to do regarding her child’s upcoming science fair:

I’m very committed to the idea that a science fair project is the kind of thing a kid should control, from start to finish — conceiving the project, formulating some clear questions and some promising strategies for answering them, doing the experiments and making the observations, adjusting the strategies as necessary, setting up more experiments, looking at the results, figuring out what they might mean, flagging the questions that remain unanswered, and then figuring out how to communicate it all to kids (and teachers) who weren’t right there with you doing all the research.

If a parent does this stuff (or acts as PI to the kid’s lab tech), I think the parent may learn a lot, but the kid will not get the same experience.

Having attended many science fairs over the past few years (from elementary to high school level), I absolutely agree. It’s all too obvious when the parent has carried out the project, and the kid has taken a backseat (or in the worst cases, just ends up being a spokesperson for the parents’ project.) My experience with my own child below…
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Vaccination doesn’t cause autism volume what-are-we-up-to-now?

ResearchBlogging.org Oh, let’s go back to the start… –Coldplay, “The Scientist”

A decade ago, a paper by Andrew Wakefield and colleagues was published in The Lancet, detailing the cases of 12 children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Anecdotal reports from parents of several of these children suggested that the onset of their condition followed receipt of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine. Wakefield concluded following this research that the MMR vaccine was unsafe, and could play a causative role in the development of autism as well as gastrointestinal disease–the first volley in the latest incarnation of anti-vaccination fear-mongering that’s as old as vaccination itself. Well, to the surprise of few, a study has been published in today’s PLoS One showing yet again no link between vaccination and autism–and, as in the original Wakefield study, the authors here looked at the presence of measles virus RNA in intestinal tissue. More after the jump.
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